Hina matsuri, popularly knowns as The Doll Floating Ceremony, is celebrated in the honor of the good health of girls of the country.
The families gather and celebrate their young daughters, as prayers are offered for their health, success, and lifelong happiness. The itinerary for the day includes a display of dolls inside the house, and a rice cracker offering to them.
The history behind the ceremony:
The festival traces its origin about 1,000 years ago, during the Heian Period. In the said era, the Emperor and Empress honored the girls of their household by dressing their dolls in ancient court fashion and placed them in the upper-most tier, as a sign of respect. Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls.
Hina Matsuri is celebrated on the 3rd day of the third month of the year. The festival brings together families living in a distance, as the roads take over the spectacle of rich and indulging Japanese culture.
The dolls are displayed on the third day of the third month, as the traditional Japanese calendar, developed during the Edo Period.
It is believed that the ceremony wards off the evil spirits, as the energy of the ancestors is channeled through the dolls––who act as a charm. The paper dolls are released into the river after the festival, symbolizing the departure of sickness and bad fortune from the lives of young girls.
The Sumida park on the Asakusa side of the river near the Azumabashi Bridge holds the conclusion of the ceremony. The ceremony begins at 11:30 AM and is canceled only on the sudden occurrence of rain.
The dolls are made to wear costumes representing the imperial court during the Heian period. They are positioned on a tiered platform and are covered with a red-colored carpet material, known as the Red Felt.
The dolls are sat on steps, in five or seven to layer tiers. The other variation of the decoration also includes single-tiered steps, with one male and one female doll placed accordingly.
The top tier is reserved for royalty, which is the Emperor and the Empress.
A screen is placed behind their seating, which replicates the real Imperial throne of the ancient court.
The second tier is dedicated to the ladies-in-waiting, and the third is reserved for five male court musicians.
The fourth step seats the trays of food, along with the ministers, followed by the fifth row, which features guards surrounded by an orange and a cherry tree on either side.
In the modern-day, Hinamatsuri is now celebrated by arranging traditional Japanese dolls on a red carpet and later, floating them down the river to carry the bad luck away.